Where The Fuck Is Turkey Going?

With a seemingly endless war going on in Syria, Arab states slowly coming apart, terrorist cells continuously operating and economic as well as military interests from countries like Russia and America, the Middle East has become a complicated and turbulent region.

While the role of the world’s greatest hegemonies inside the Middle East seems clear, there are regional powers whose presence is often underestimated or forgotten.

So, with a strained relationship with the Unites States and failed negotiations to form part of the European Union, what is Turkey’s international and regional role?

“Every decision Turkey makes, even the ones that affect the international sphere, are related to their domestic policies.” Agustín Berea a Middle East specialist said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “Everything Tayyip Erdoğan does is for his public and his public is the Turkish people.”

In a developing country where the society is divided between those in favor of business and liberalism and those who are much more conservative and traditionalist, Tayyip Erdoğan came in as a reformist, progressist and with strong ties with the conservative sectors of the Turkish society.

In the beginning of Erdoğan’s mandate, talks about joining the European Union were strong.


READ MORE: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

However, such discourses have gradually faded over time.

Historical issues, such as the occupation of Cyprus, and the recent violation of human rights, as well as the authoritarian government, have been enough to declare that Turkey does not reach the standards to form part of the union.

Although the Republic of Turkey was founded with the objective of having a legitimacy based on secularity and laicism, the Turkish society remains strongly attached to its religious basis.

“Demographically, there’s a lot more people who identify themselves with the East than with the West. Geographically, the part of Turkey located in Europe and the Mediterranean, although highly populated, represents a minority,” Berea said.

Not only that, but the agenda of Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan does not tie with the agenda of other international actors such as Russia and the United States.

A market in Istanbul. Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“His main goal is to solve internal conflicts,” Berea said.

The inability to tie Turkish interests with those of other countries has resulted in strained relationships with the American president Donald Trump and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Moreover, it has also resulted in the breaking of diplomatic relations with the Iranian president Hasán Rouhani.

While Erdoğan’s ability to project his influence at an international level is questionable, with one of the world’s largest and most powerful armies, Turkey’s regional power is undeniable.

“Turkey cannot reach just any part of the world. However, its mobility and ability to effectively achieve its goals within the Middle East are higher than the one of countries like Russia or even the United States,” Berea said.

These goals include neutralizing the threat of ISIS within Turkish borders, the liberation of the city of Raqqa, and toppling the Assad regime. However, this would require more time, planning, and manpower than the one Turkey currently has in Syria.

This year, as early as February, former prohibitions considered to be secularization measures, such as the banning of the of Islamic veil and religious demonstrations, have been lifted. This has led many to believe that Turkey is no longer the champion of secularism.

“Muslim sectors are much closer to the government and it would seem like Turkey’s regional allies are projects that align with the agenda of political Islam,” Berea said.

Turkey is not the only nation of the Middle East that seems to be going back to projects and governments based on the Muslim religion.

READ MORE: Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake

“Countries in the Middle East have experienced with secular governance models and it is the opinion of many that such projects have not worked so far,” Berea explained.

Iran, Syria and Egypt are some of the countries that have experienced with these secular governance models.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The idea of going back to a caliphate comes from these failed projects of democratic nations and the people in the Middle East want to go back to a moment in which society and political structures worked better.

Could we expect Tayyip Erdoğan’s government to fail or to be toppled by a revolution in Turkey?

“The only way that there could be a successful coup against Erdoğan is if he openly spoke about religious structures within the state. This is unthinkable for the Turkish army,” Berea said.

Although political leaders have known how to handle their differences and act with moderation, the future of the Middle East is now more uncertain than ever.

With so many international actors involved in a small region, the situation seems to be bound to escalate to major proportions.

“My fear about Trump is that he may not know how to handle himself in moments of tension,” Berea said.

While conflict is possible, it doesn’t seem likely yet.

NOW WATCH: This Is The Oldest Building In The Western Hemisphere. We Bet You’ve Never Heard Of It 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS


“Why Die for Danzig?”: What Trump Has In Common With Other Far Right Leaders

Throughout the Western world, there have been groups sympathizing with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to “traditional values” and utilization of bellicose activity to alter conditions in other countries.

This has included a rejection of anything remotely “Western”, be it existing borders, or the well established fact that condoms severely limit the transmission of STIs.

This appeal to “traditional values” jives very well with other populist right parties in the West, who believe their way of life is under assault from: immigrants, the LGBT+ movement, and the world order established in the aftermath of the Second World War.

France’s National Front has advocated for: overturning French recognition of same sex marriages and adoption, severe strengthening immigration controls, and a strong rolling back free trade in favor of French made products.

The National Front also advocates for reorienting away from most of its European allies in favor of Russia.  Incidentally, Russian banks have loaned National Front millions of euros.

The American nativist movement, including the infamous “Alt Right”, share many of the views of their French counterparts.

The American nativist movement has a strong interest in carrying out Mr. Trump’s proposed: temporary ban on Muslim immigration, general tightening of the southern border through increased barriers to immigration, skepticism of the merits of free trade, and hostility to honoring American security guarantees in both Europe and in East Asia.

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UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), is one of the least radical of the populist Right parties, as one of its only defining issues is withdrawing from the EU.

However, party leader Nigel Farage has expressed some admiration with Vladimir Putin in the past, and an appreciable fraction of rank and file UKIPers share this view.

Other populist right parties share these views, and methods.  Some, like National Front’s Jean-Marie Le Pen have endorsed their colleagues in other countries.

This mutual affinity among ideological fellow travelers carries over to Vladimir Putin.

A well documented game of international footsie has taken place between Putin and Trump, due to their mutual dislike of the European security system, and appreciation of “strong leaders”.

On other issues the populist right concur, to the detriment of European security. Trump has given some signs he would be open to Brexit, Marine Le Pen, intends to campaign in Britain for Brexit, and while the Kremlin has been largely silent, disintegration of the European system may lead to an unraveling of other portions.

On the issue of the war in Syria, the populist right stays in relative lock step.

Nigel Farage, who has previously expressed disdain for R2P inspired efforts, has supported cooperation with both Al-Assad and Russia in combating Islamic State, despite the Syrian regime being consistently the number one killer of non-combatants. Donald Trump has also said he “back’s Putin 100%”.

As the civil war in Syria is ongoing, and the Putin backed Assad regime continues to target civilians, this vast coalition is endorsing the continuation of the refugee crisis, which fuels anti immigrant sentiment in the West.

All parties benefit from this arrangement.

Europe’s far right gets into power, and the Russians create fissures in the Western security apparatus.

The words of French Neo-Socialist, and Vichy France official, Marcel Déat may be repeated with their original intent if the collaboration movement continues on its dangerous path.  “Why die for Danzig?”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake

Read the companion piece to this one: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

First, the obvious; there is no mechanism in the North Atlantic Treaty to remove a member without their consent.

The only conceivable workaround is for the other twenty seven member states to deposit their intent to leave the Alliance in Washington D.C., and then form a new Alliance. However, this “solution” has problems.

The credibility of the alliance would be compromised. Public’s on both sides of the Atlantic are growing ambivalent to collective security.

Collapsing and reforming the alliance to exclude one of the oldest and most strategically relevant will inspire a lack of confidence in collective security. The whole house of cards comes crashing down.

Read More: 10 Days In Turkey: An American Student Comes Face To Face With The Islamic Crisis Of Modernity

For the sake of argument, let’s say that excluding Turkey is possible, and won’t create a tremendous credibility gap; NATO would still be shooting itself in the foot in terms of its deterrence value.

Even ignoring that Turkey has the second largest military in NATO, its geographic position is invaluable in deterring Russian aggression against the alliance, and negating the Black Sea Fleet.

The Black Sea Fleet, recently reinforced by ships stolen from the Ukrainian Navy, would be free to do as it pleases, were it not for the Bosporus and Dardanelles, which act as a tremendous nautical choke point.

The Bosporus Bridge. Photo Credit: Güldem Üstün/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The Bosporus Bridge. Photo Credit: Güldem Üstün/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This severely limits the ability of the Russians to act aggressively in the Mediterranean, as they must utilize this passage.

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Turkey is a guarantor of good behavior on behalf of the Russians in NATO’s southern flank, and gives the alliance a second front to project over the Black Sea.

If Turkey is so important, why would anyone want to be rid of it?

A reasonable criticism is that Turkey is increasingly undemocratic due to President Erdoğan, among other things, silences media at home and abroad, and continues to deny the genocide in Armenia.

Photo Credit: Hyeong Seok Kim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Hyeong Seok Kim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While these instances are wholly undemocratic, and contrary to the democratic ethos of the Atlantic Alliance, it would not be the first time an alliance member was behaving badly.

Both the United States and Belgium, for instance, fueled the Congo Crisis of the early 1960s, leading to the deaths of about 100,000 people.

The British and the French attempted to seize the Sinai Peninsula in a shameless imperialist land grab in 1956. Poland’s ruling party is also curtailing democracy in much the same way Erdoğan has.

Yet all of these parties remain in the alliance.

Instead of ostracizing an old and strategically invaluable friend, utilizing the existing alliance architecture to influence Turkey back onto the path of liberalism is the far more reasonable reaction.

Read the companion piece to this one: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

Do you with agree with this view? Give us your take in the comments below. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: ResoluteSupportMedia/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Donald Trump “Does” Europe: He Has No Frickin Clue About NATO

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made several claims regarding the utility of NATO in relation to its costs.

This is a strange claim indeed.

While Trump has said he would through the sheer will of his personality achieve Defense Department reform, which was tried and failed by the last two presidents, simultaneously increasing the size of the military across the board seems to indicate the result would be an increased military budget.

Regardless of the hypothetical effects on defense spending of a Trump administration, and the missing logic as to why the United States would need a larger military when it would be disengaging from the world, accurately assessing how much the American contribution to European defense actually costs would be a worth while endeavor.

Donald Trump has not taken the time to do this.

First, lets look at the easiest metric to measure American contributions to NATO, the direct funding of the alliance.

According to the funding page of NATO’s website, direct funding for the alliance is decided “in accordance with an agreed cost-sharing formula based on Gross National Income” of which the United States has agreed to foot 22.1446% of the bill.

So what is the grand total of NATO’s budget? The budget is divided into three sectors: civil, military, and the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP).

The civil budget broadly covers both PR and diplomacy. The military budget provides funding for staff colleges, communally owned assets like deployable radar, and administrative functions.

The NSIP provides for constructing various military assets which could not be reasonably funded by national defense budgets, including harbors and runways.

The budgets set forth in June of 2015 indicate that the civil budget is about €222 million ($251 million), the military budget at €1.16 billion ($1.31 billion), and the NSIP at €690 million ($780 million).

Adding these all together we get a total budget of about €2.03 billion ($230 billion).  Already this is a very small number in terms of US spending, but the US only foots a little over one fifth of this, which comes out at around $500 million.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC by S.A. 2.0)

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC by S.A. 2.0)

In contrast, Mr Trump has claimed that his border wall would cost in the range of $8 billion, not including maintenance.

This claim is also largely understood to be underselling the true cost for a fixed fortification, of which his apparent idol General Patton is noted as remarking on such structures as a “monument to the stupidity of man”.

Regardless, it seems that between the build up within United States, and the $8+ billion ineffectual wall, the United States’ $500 million to NATO seems downright microscopic.

Perhaps then Mr. Trump is referring to the nearly $600 billion US defense budget, which outspends the next few countries combined, including a number of allies.

North American allies provide about three quarters of total defense spending in the alliance, and Canada’s hilariously atrophied military is not a big boost to the North American value.

So this must be what Mr. Trump is referring to, right? The US spends close to as much as the rest of the alliance, therefore the United States is being ripped off.

This is certainly a reasonable viewpoint, if you consider the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii, United States Forces Korea (USFK), or the US 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan as contributing to European defense.

While these assets might be used in a large conflict in Europe, if it were to last long enough, they are of little deterrent value in the Pacific.

A Reasonable appraisal of the American footprint in Europe will look at assets in or around Europe.

Using the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) cost as a rough average, we can begin the calculate the costs of the US Army in Europe. At 16 brigades, and our rough approximation of $285 million for full readiness over a year, leaves us $4.56 Billion.  Note we are making the annual cost of the European Dental Command as expensive as a combat unit.

The one battalion of US marines in Europe can also be easily factored in, at $55 million.

The US Air Force combines its commands in Europe and Africa.  As a result we will count Air Force assets in Djibouti in addition to Europe.

This gives us 26 squadrons, which for simplicity’s sake we will count universally as F-16s, despite Pavehawks being less expensive to fly, and F-15s slightly more expensive to fly. Our DoD numbers give us $135 million per year, resulting in annually $3.51 billion per year.

This number may be fudged based on the limited information available on maintenance costs for various aircraft, but will do well as a stand in for our purposes of a rough estimate.

The cost of US Navy forces is even less readily available The Center for New American Security claims that a Carrier group costs $6.5 million per day to operate, which comes out at about $2.37 billion per year.

The US Navy had twelve surface ships in the Mediterranean in October of 2015, which for our purposes we will equate to two Carrier groups, which include two attack subs, four to six surface ships, plus an aircraft carrier with a compliment of aircraft.

The cost for our substitution is $4.74 billion.

The total cost of American assets in europe is about $13.36 billion per year.

That includes all the indirect costs of European defense, and direct NATO funding.  This is of course not the exact value.

This is a rough estimate through open source channels that is willing to substitute jets for helicopters, and two carrier groups for a dozen surface ships.

That’s a small chunk of the overall defense budget, that is of significant strategic value. For reference, that’s in the ballpark of Italy’s contribution to European defense, and less than half of much maligned Germany’s contribution.

The Americans are not being taken for a ride by NATO.

This begs the question; why is the presumptive Republican nominee not able to have someone crunch publicly available numbers to assess the bargain price that the United States buys a Europe whole free and at peace for?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Holger Vaga/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Fighterjocks From Portland Are In Finland Right Now, Spooking The Russians

Some American flyboys are in Finland this month, in an effort to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin where his country’s borders really are.

The 123rd Fighter Squadron, based out of Portland, Oregon, is participating in exercises in Finland over the course of this month.

The F-15Cs of the 123rd will be assisting in improving the readiness of the Finnish Air Force, who has seen an increase in its necessity due to an increase in Russian airspace violations of sovereign airspace.

Finland is not a member of NATO, but has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as assisting in ISAF operations in Afghanistan, and participating in NATO exercises, as demonstrated below.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has solidified North American and European security interests to a degree that may even exceed that of the height of the Cold War.

This in turn has lead to an interest among some to extend the NATO security umbrella.

This has led most recently to Montenegro’s invitation to the alliance, and some suggestions that Sweden and Finland consider alliance membership.

Both Sweden and Finland have historically followed a policy of neutrality, but this has not been entirely adhered to.

Sweden has had intelligence sharing agreements with NATO states since 1954, as well as relying on NATO capabilities in the event of war against the Soviet Union, and in more recent times against simulated Russian airstrikes.

Both countries participate in NATO exercises, and operations, as well as having strong relations with both Denmark and Norway; both founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.

However, the two countries are not equally open to formally joining the alliance.

The Swedish public has rapidly shifted in favor of NATO membership, with 41% in favor, 39% opposed, and 20% undecided as of late 2015.  While Finnish support for NATO membership is at a historical high, only 27% support membership.

This is why the American deployment of aircraft into non ally Finland is such a strong signal.

 The Americans may be showing a preview of the kind of commitment they would offer if Finland joined NATO.

By creating stronger military and diplomatic ties with Finland through interactions between the 123rd with Finnish units, and other NATO-Finland interactions, the case for affiliation becomes more concrete.

That does not make the Portland based unit’s sale easy.

Greater affiliation with the EU and NATO has historically lead to an increase in likelihood for Russian counter actions, ala the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, and the two year old ongoing fiasco in Ukraine.

It is essentially out of the question that Finland join without Sweden, or vice versa. In addition to the two countries having strong historical ties, as well as sharing a highly convenient border to ferry troops and material over in the event of Russian intervention into Finland, while Sweden joining with Finland might trigger a response against neutral Finland, in order to guarantee buffer space against the perceived NATO threat.

The Oregon Air National Guard is thus pulling double duty in appealing to both the remaining non aligned Scandinavian countries, as well as improving Finland’s unilateral readiness.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: cryogenic666/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Militarism Is Back In Vogue Around The World And It Should Scare The Shit Out Of Us

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, published its most recent report on world wide military expenditures earlier this week.

Two headlines of the report pop out as significant.

The first is that Saudi Arabia has overtaken Russia in military spending, with $87.2 billion to Russia’s $66.4 billion, being behind only the United States and China, at $596 billion and $215 billion respectively.  The second is that, beyond the Western Hemisphere and Africa, worldwide military spending is on the rise.

These figures can be paired with known geopolitical trends and instances in order to project what particular actors may be thinking, as well as what is the world’s security zeitgeist.

First, the somewhat surprising figure of Saudi Arabia overtaking Russia in defense spending.

Russia has been working to modernize its armed forces through: professionalization, doctrinal evolution, and working to achieve technological parity with the West (particularly, but not exclusively, in electronic warfare, unmanned vehicles, and force projection).

Indeed, Moscow has been consistently increasing its defense spending since the 2000’s, into the current year.

However, in real terms, the Russian military budget has remained largely stable.  This is due to the fact that the Ruble is approximately half its value at the onset of the Ukrainian adventure.

A Ruble just isn’t worth what it used to be.

As a result, Russia’s modernization efforts are slowed for the foreseeable future, perhaps to be completed in the 2020s.

This is in contrast with Saudi Arabia’s large scale investment in weaponry to balance against Iran.

This is most noble in the three year old Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, first displaying this deterrent power in 2014, as well as procuring nearly $1.3 billion in American munitions.

These purchases seem to indicate that Saudi intends to keep Iran at arms length in the event of hostilities, utilizing its overwhelming number of missiles.

Iran in turn, due to the lifting of EU and US sanctions, will likely attempt to counter these Saudi gains.

Of course, Saudi and Russia are not the only ones preparing for conflict.

Asia leads the way in new defense spending, with $436 billion in new spending region wide.

This is driven in large part China’s need to deter American intervention in its periphery.  Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam also increased their spending in response to China’s bellicose enforcement of its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Europe is also continuing its trend of increased spending, in light of the Ukraine Crisis.  NATO’s biggest European spenders, Germany, France, and the UK, did not drive any growth.

But some of the Baltic states have built up their militaries.

This is likely due to the perceived threat of future Russian attempts to secure buffer space against the stronger alliance members, and unease about the Americans honoring their security agreements.

The outliers also a tell a story of the global arms buildup.

The Western Hemisphere is largely conflict free due to an end of the Cold War, and other imperialist interventions into Latin America largely subsiding after the Roosevelt administration’s attempt at being a “good neighbor”.

American hegemony over the region is uncontested.

Africa, despite being rife with conflict in: Libya, the Sinai, the West Coast, Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo, is largely devoid of great power politics.  Thus, large scale trends of regional military investment are not necessary.

These trends seem to indicate that military spending is increasingly becoming an acceptable investment of revenue in light of perceived dangers for nations from activist states.

This is potentially worrying, as periods of militarism tend to precede periods of conflict.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Poland Is Swiftly Drifting Towards Authoritarianism And It Could Put Us All In Danger

Poland’s ruling party, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), has been the source of controversy in Poland and throughout Europe nearly since their arrival to power in October of 2015.

This has been driven by the party’s Euroskeptic agenda, questionable legislation, and generally hostile behavior. As a result, the strategic readiness of the entire Euro-Atlantic area is compromised due to growing fissures between European allies.

The Party’s platform in regards to Poland’s relations with other states emphasizes expansion and modernization of Poland’s military, as well as strong cooperation with the UN, NATO, and in particular the United States.

They are wary of integration with the EU than NATO, but not outright opposed like other European right-wing parties like UKIP in the United Kingdom. It should also be noted that PiS favors further centralization of Poland’s government, which is the source of PiS’s disruptive effect on alliance readiness and cohesion.

The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament.

The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament. This resulted in weeks of protest from concerned Poles.

Shortly after this affront to checks and balances, military police were dispatched to replace officials at a NATO Counterintelligence Center in Krakow.

This change of staff was not relayed to other members of the alliance, including Slovak officials charged with cooperatively coordinating the facility who chastised the move, though no changes were made to the Slovak staff.


From (L to R) the Polish Flag, EU flag, and the NATO flag. Photo Credit: Pawel Kabanski/Flickr (CC by S.A.2.0)

On Jan. 7 of this year, President Andrzej Duda (who resigned from PiS after being elected last May to serve as an independent) signed into law new supreme powers for the Treasury Minister over appointments and firings from state media, as opposed to the previous system of contests hosted by the National Broadcast Council.

This was followed by further protests against the government, and the first of its kind investigation by the EU of PiS’s undemocratic legislation.  In the most extreme circumstances this can lead to Poland having its voting rights in the EU Parliament suspended.

The Polish government has responded to this inquiry with aggression at the perceived source of this hostility (Germany) with attacks.

This includes drawing allusions to Nazi Germany in both print, depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel in the garb of Adolf Hitler, and a tough letter from Poland’s Justice Minister aimed at the German EU commissioner.

“You demanded that Poland be placed under supervision. Such words, spoken by a German politician, have the worst possible connotations for Poles,” Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said in a letter to the German EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger according to the Financial Times.

This verbal jab is in spite of relations being so warm in 2014 that Germany and Poland agreed to an exchange of commanders of battalions, a German commanding a Polish unit and vice versa, in order to better understand how their allies work.

The military exchange is set to occur in mid 2016. This kind of exchange is critical to belaying atrophy in a highly critical region of NATO’s frontier. If relations deteriorate to the point that this kind of mutually beneficial cooperation is cancelled, it would be a bad signal to Euro-Atlantic security.

These continued worrying actions in affairs, both foreign and domestic, will likely only further isolate Poland from its allies, which in turn damages the readiness of the entire alliance.

While these effects are likely short-term, and may be rectified due to the popular discontent of the Polish people, and pressure from the EU, serious disagreements are a real possibility. Allied states being unwilling to train together would present a much weaker deterrent to any hypothetical Russian adventures in the Baltic Region, due to the much weaker unit cohesion.

With NATO’s 2016 Warsaw Conference coming up, frosty relations may limit the effectiveness of any measures taken at the conference. This would be in stark contrast to the highly productive 2014 Wales Conference, which established the Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce (VJTF), a multinational brigade that can be deployed within 48 hours to respond to a crisis, preceding the full force of the 40,000 man NATO Response Force (NRF).

Thus, it is in the best interest of a party that claims to value Poland’s NATO membership to repair these ties, and perhaps reevaluate how much it values NATO’s deeply entwined sister organization, the EU.

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Millennial Intelligencer: NATO Spits In Russia’s Eye By Inviting Montenegro To Join Alliance

On Wednesday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization formally invited the former Yugoslav nation of Montenegro to join the ranks of the 28 member alliance, despite Russian protests to the contrary.

Montenegro has been a partner of the alliance for a long time leading up to this offer of admittance into the alliance, starting with membership with the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program in 2006, and being awarded a Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2009.

As such, this offer was seen by most observes as not a matter of if but when.

As a former Yugoslav country, Montenegro has traditionally been within the Soviet and later Russian sphere of influence.

Despite the 1999 bombing campaign by NATO, which included targets in Montenegro, the small country on the Adriatic coast has consistently sought integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.

Russia’s general antipathy to expansion of NATO, in addition to a continued loss of influence likely motivate the resentment to this announcement.

Montenegro’s ascension into the alliance would further seal the Adriatic Sea from Russian warships, and further its ability to project into the Mediterranean Sea.

In keeping with NATO’s values, Secretary General Stoltenberg has reiterated that:  “on defense adaptation, on domestic reform, especially rule of law, and to continue to make progress in demonstrating public support for Montenegro’s NATO membership.

This mirrors earlier calls by the Secretary General in June to bolster public support for membership, before becoming a member of NATO.

According to the New York Timescurrent public support in Montenegro for alliance membership is at 47 percent and opposition at 39 percent, though there are also fears that the Kremlin could pump money into parties opposed to NATO membership as they have with France’s National Front.

Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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